The C Word

Since I recently wrote about the D word (denier), it’s only fair that I follow up writing about the C word.

Like many who are labeled ‘deniers’, I have  no problem accepting the physics of climate change. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, add more of it you tend to push temperatures up. We’ve added a lot recently and temps have gone up. There is an anthropogenic component to the greenhouse gases and I think we’re responsible for a goodly bit of the warming we have seen–and that we will see in the future.

I also think that temperature rises past a certain point (and in a telescoped time frame) will pose a problem for us. Well, by ‘us’ I mostly mean developing countries that won’t have the money to prepare for or adapt to the effects of climate change. Sea walls and such are expensive.

However, in gracious and polite conversations with those who are part of the climate (No, not that C) consensus (not that C either), they get almost as miffed as I do when they use the D word. Because I tell them that although I accept the findings of science, I see no indication that anthropogenic contributions to global warming will lead to a catastrophe. There. That’s the C word.


When I write about CAGW, I am referring to statements (mostly by politicians, lobbyists and NGOs) that predict or imply a real catastrophe happening on this our only planet due to global warming. Sea level rise, dramatic rise in surface temperatures, failure of agriculture or water supplies, dramatically increased number and strength of storm, drought and flood.

I do believe that sea levels will rise, temperatures as well and that there will be more and stronger storms, droughts and floods. But I don’t think any of it will be beyond our current (let alone our future) capabilities to deal with.

We could have dealt with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 using only the technology and forecasting available then. We chose not to do our best in preparing for it–I hope we’ll choose differently next time.

In this period where CAGW advocates are prematurely announcing the arrival of Xtreme Weather, talking about 1,000 year events every week, we have set records in agricultural production, reductions in the rate of mortality, morbidity and poverty–imagine where we’d be if there were no Xtreme Weather….

Many members of the Consensus are not in accord with those who are at the extreme. ( The same is true for the opponents of the consensus–for example, I’m no fan of Monckton of Blenchley, or whatever he’s calling himself now.) But unlike what I just wrote, members of the Consensus operate by Reagan’s 11th Commandment–which was never to speak ill of a Republican. Just change the name and you’ve got their strategy.

But the metamorphosis in conversations happens all too frequently. A polite disagreement on the utility of some policy or preparation suddenly transforms into ‘how do we prepare for 3 meters of sea level rise?’ To answer ‘ well, why should we when nobody thinks it’s going to happen’ typically starts a war.

So what do we do about the C word? If those supporting the Consensus feel insulted by it, I guess in all fairness we should find another term, as we are asking them to do with denier. I don’t know. What do you think of Outlier?

3 responses to “The C Word

  1. Outliers? It evokes “out-and-out-liars”, which could be fairly applied to some. But presumably you’re seeking a less offensive term, not one which is more so.

    How about “dires” or “dire-ists”? I think that’s a notch below “catastrophe”.

  2. You don’t build a $1M sea wall to protect a $12 shanty town. You just step backwards until it isn’t wet anymore and build a new shanty town.

    Most of the expensive infrastructure (that is designed to last >50 years) is in developed countries. There are legitimate questions of where public infrastructure that will last this long should and should not be built.

    SLR risk over the next 100 years: 18 inches (medium emissions)
    Storm surge risk next year: >120 inches

    Most low lying areas are already unoccupied because of *** storm surge *** risks. To the extent that storm surge risks get riskier with increased SLR this is also a factor. However driving around the Florida peninsula every house is already on >10 foot stilts so the threat from SLR is minimal.

    The private sector should simply be allowed to build at their own risk.

    Some places like Miami actually have a porous surface so building a sea wall doesn’t actually work that well, it will simply go under it. Denmark, New Orleans and so forth already do fine below sea level (until the dike breaks). If they didn’t abandon New Orleans after Katrina, I doubt seriously anyone is abandoning anywhere under the threat of 18 inches of SLR over the next 100 years.

  3. This non-civil engineering hysteria is uncalled for. But I see in media that mreo and more formerly responsible news sources, like business for instance, are now carrying climate scare stories. The catastrophists are working hard to win the cultural war. They gave up winning the truth war awhile back.
    The true catastrophist does not care if theyare right. They care that they are given and wield the power to save humanity (as they see it) from the wickedness of CO2 and denialist scum.

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